Category Archives: recycling

Fortune cookies and lobster pots 


Not only did we have fun last night celebrating Chinese New Year with fortune cookies and quizzes but when we got home our housemate had a new year gift for us, a lobster pot! I’ve always wanted one to try my hand at nabbing one of those elusive underwater prizes. Hopefully this will allow me to explore the wet wild larder that is out there.

All I need now is a boat!

First catch, you can’t leave him for five minutes…..

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DIY cold frame

Spent most of the day transforming some old windows and scaffolding planks into a cold frame. With the price of a shop bought one anything from £100 – £500 it’s crazy not to make your own. I’ve been really struggling the last couple of years trying to make do without or cobble something together with polythene- which always looks grubby, why make your garden look like an allotment? I’m a strong believer in Permaculture design but don’t see why it always has to look shabby. Up to now this first one has cost nothing, the second will need approximately £15’s worth of extra scaffolding planks, everything else I’ve got in the shed- rewards of being a womble.

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I’ve painted the inside white to reflect the light and the outside green as it was a little stark white, although I am a little worried it looks a bit national trust, ah well I’ll just charge an entry fee next in future.

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Suburban fuel foraging

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The gas bill arrived today and for the first time I didn’t tut, it was in fact cheaper than last year, partly to do with a so called ‘reduction’ in prices but the exact amount of gas we’ve used is half! from 5625 kWh to 2509 kWh. I put this down to two things, 1 we didn’t use the central heating until November and 2 we’ve been using the wood burner more than last year. Using the stove not only to heat the house but cook on has made a massive difference.

Having a wood stove is seen by some as a middle class toy or only for those lucky few who live in the countryside but if you care about your environment and want to save money I’d say you can’t go wrong. After the initial cost of instillation your next issue is fuel cost, there’s no point saving on gas if your spending hundreds of pounds on fuel, that’s when they become a toy.

I used to think that the only way to be totally self-sufficient in fuel was to live in the countryside because where else did wood come from? However having spent a year living in a small hamlet I realize the country mouse is not always better off than his townie cousin. If you live in a house surrounded by fields it might be beautiful but your access to fuel is limited to your nearest woodland, which may or my not be private or even someone’s livelihood, on the other hand living in the town opens up a mass of free fuel opportunities.

You don’t have to walk far in the suburbs to find a skip, these are the suburban foragers friends the trick is to see whatever’s inside as a potential fuel. As long as it’s not MDF or chipboard it’s free warm for you. I used to walk past skips that didn’t have pallets in but now a broken chair, carpenters off cuts, anything wooden gets brought home and chopped up.

Pallets are an obvious one and many places are more than happy for you to take them off their hands, just remember to ask first some companies reuse them. It’s surprising how a few pallets can heat your house for an evening. Another place to look is charity, junk and auction houses they often have things which are unsellable or broken, most places will happily give you something that’s destined for the tip.

Last year a neighbours tree blew down in a storm so I offered to saw it up for them if I could keep the wood he was only too happy and we ended up with about a weeks worth of fuel. Every time we go out for a walk in a park or in the woods around the city I make sure I at least pick up one piece of wood however small, if you do it all year you’ll soon have a ready supply. I’m going to have to get a trailer for my bike or perhaps a trolley so that I don’t miss out next time I leave the house, having set my foragers eye for fuel as well as food has made me realize I should never need buy fuel again.

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Next years fuel is stacking up nicely we are aiming to fill this by the end of the year.

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pig husbandry

Excellent video, beautifully filmed just watch it

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Headingley Guerilla Herb Garden

Thanks to a tweet from Richard Reynolds yesterday evening a friend and I found ourselves at the rock and roll end of horticulture having our photos taken by Paul Harris for 2020Vision. Well OK it’s not like being photographed falling off a toilet at Glastonbury but it was fun. Guerilla Gardening is as much about raising peoples awareness of the fact that they live in a world that they are part of not separate from. It’s also about the ownership of space these are public places, the clue is in the title, we need to remind ourselves that we do have ownership of these places not from a “I pay my taxes” view point but that it’s where I live where I walk past everyday why don’t we take pride and responsibility in these spaces as much as our homes.

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Anyway I’m ranting, this was an unloved planter outside the Arndale Centre in Headingley, Leeds. I wanted to turn it into a veg box so I’ve started to plant herbs, Rosemary, Thyme and Egyptian Walking Onions because I love them. Hope fully I can add to this as the season allows. If anyone is in the area please feel free to add what you like.

I thought the idea of making it a veg box compliments the local eateries like Greggs and Pizza Express, oh I feel another rant coming………..

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